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Livestock carrier docked in Cape Town causes big stink and animal welfare beef

Livestock carrier docked in Cape Town causes big stink and animal welfare beef
The Al Kuwait docked in the port of Cape Town. It it allegedly loaded with sheep and cattle and the SPCA has been sent to inspect after the vessel emitted a terrible smell on Monday 19 February, 2024. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

A ship carrying around 19,000 cattle made a stop at the port of Cape Town on Sunday evening resulting in a stench that polluted the CBD and surrounding areas. 

Capetonians and areas around the Central Business District (CBD), which include Greenpoint, Waterfront, Woodstock and further down to Observatory, woke up to a foul smell following the docking of a livestock carrier ship.

SPCA inspecting the livestock carrier Al Kuwait docked at Cape Town’s harbour, on Monday, 19 February 2024. (Photo: Supplied)

Initially, residents believed the stink was from the sewage pipes, which have been a pressing problem for the municipality. The stench became so severe that some companies let their staff go home for the day. A letter among many seen by Daily Maverick explained that the stink presented a health hazard, prompting the employees to leave early.

The livestock carrier ship, Al Kuwait, docked at Cape Town Harbour on Sunday night with 19,000 cattle, some of them reportedly dead. According to marine traffic tracker Vessel Finder, the ship had been at sea for the past eight days and was travelling from Brazil when it made an emergency landing at the Cape Town harbour.

livestock carrier

A view of the Al Kuwait in the port of Cape Town. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

An employee at the harbour said the ship docked for fuel; water; food for crew staff and animals; and medication for crew and animals.

The foul smell raised concerns for many residents on social media questioning why cattle could smell so bad. Some people as far as Langa said they could smell the stench.

The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) and Cape of Good Hope SPCA team including NSPCA Veterinary Consultant, Dr Bryce Marock, has been aboard the vessel since 10pm on Sunday, 18 February 2024, working with the cooperation of the captain, to assess the welfare of the animals.

“We have been in and out of the High Court on numerous occasions since 2019.  The NSPCA and the Cape of Good Hope SPCA is actively engaged on the Al Kuwait, a live export vessel currently docked at Cape Town Harbour,” reads a statement from NSPCA.

livestock carrier

A section of the Al Kuwait on Monday 19 February, 2024. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

“We acknowledge the concerns raised by members of the public regarding the noticeable stench emanating from the ship, reaching the city centre and surrounds.  This smell is indicative of the awful conditions the animals endure, having already spent 2½ weeks on board, with a build-up of faeces and ammonia. The stench onboard is unimaginable, yet the animals face this every single day.

“We are extremely grateful for the Cape of Good Hope SPCA, who has pulled out all the stops to assist the NSPCA in our inspection.

“We urge the public to consider the plight of these sentient beings, confined to cramped quarters with limited ventilation and hygiene, as we continue our efforts to ensure their well-being.”

Read about the shipment of animals  in this report by Don Pinnock in Daily Maverick: Eastern Cape feedlot manager arrested after mutilating 126 export rams with angle grinder

Mayoral committee member for water and sanitation, Dr Zahid Badroodien, said the City’s Environmental Health has confirmed that the source of the smell across the city is a ship in the harbour.

“The ship arrived last night and is carrying cattle. According to the environmental health team, there is no health risk.”

Its final destination is Iran and it will make another stop at the East London harbour where thousands of sheep are to be loaded onboard.

Four Paws, a global animal welfare organisation for animals last year said the transporting of live animals by ship was a long and torturous journey as animals are shipped to their death in overseas slaughterhouses.

SPCA inspecting the livestock carrier Al Kuwait docked at Cape Town’s harbour, on Monday, 19 February 2024. (Photo: Supplied)

Initially  Al Kuwait was scheduled to depart  from Cape Town at 9pm on 19 February, 2024. However it is now due to to leave on Tuesday morning, according to Transnet  National Ports Authority (TNPA), which on Monday afternoon confirmed the docking. In a statement, it said: The vessel, en route to the Middle East, docked at the Port of Cape Town from Brazil to load
animal feed for the livestock on board.  The welfare and humane treatment of the animals on board the ‘Al Kuwait’ whilst docked at the Port of Cape Town is a top priority for TNPA.

“The state veterinarian has approved the vessel to berth and collect animal feed. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has attended to the vessel to monitor the well-being of the animals on board. TNPA assures all stakeholders and members of the public that comprehensive measures to safeguard the health and well-being of the animals have been implemented whilst the vessel is in the port.” DM

This is a developing story and will continue to be updated.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Hope all the meat eaters out there read this. Disgusting how animals are treated. Don’t reserve your love for your dogs and cats only…looks how the rest are treated as well. They all deserve your care and love as well

  • Joe Irwin says:

    I spent some time in Perth Australia a couple of decades ago and did a boat trip around the harbor. We passed a livestock carrier loaded with sheep and the stink was indescribable. How the crew could work in those conditions without gas masks is unbelievable.

  • Tima B says:

    This is against Islamic rules. The animals are heading to an Islam-majority country run by an Islamic government – such inhumane treatment is not allowed.

    • Greeff Kotzé says:

      The entire point of the slaughter ritual in Islam is to prevent the infliction of unnecessary suffering to the animal. That’s why it must be done with one swift stroke of a razor sharp blade, shackles are forbidden, etc.

      These transport conditions defeat the entire purpose of that. Truly devout Muslims would be appalled.

    • Andrew Newman says:

      If true it won’t be relevant.
      The surviving cattle will be sprayed and cleaned at destination and sold. The buyer will be none the wiser and won’t care.

  • Random Comment says:

    I am a meat eater, admittedly, but this is completely unacceptable.
    I cannot even begin to imagine how awful the conditions are during transport and at the final destination in the Middle East.
    There HAS to be a better way.

  • Brian Dutlow says:

    The vessel should conduct a cleaning process before docking at any port. Doing a flushing process while out at sea.

  • Alison Joubert says:

    There is no valid reason for this inhumane transport. The animals could be killed according to halaal customs at their place of origin and the meat transported frozen. And this ship is still going to load sheep! Their have been efforts in SA to prohibit our animals from being shipped live to the middle east, but they all failed. The efforts must be revived and redoubled.

  • Gerry Hunt-Higgs says:

    Where are the Islamic laws here?
    How are they getting away with this?

    • Greeff Kotzé says:

      “If animals have been subjected to cruelties in their breeding, transport, slaughter, or in their general welfare, meat from them is considered impure and unlawful to eat (haram). The flesh of animals killed by cruel methods (Al-Muthiah) is carrion (Al-Mujathamadh). Even if these animals have been slaughtered in the strictest manner, if cruelties were inflicted on them otherwise, their flesh is still forbidden food (haram).”
      — Imam B.A. Hafiz al-Masri of the Shah Jehan Mosque (Woking, UK)

  • Martin Drecsler says:

    Can’t they slaughter the animals in Brazil???

  • Shocking! These poor animals should be slaughtered humanely in South Africa in accordance with the Halaal standards, meat frozen and sent to the respective destinations. If the meat is deemed to be Halaal if it has been frozen, then have it flown to the destinations – it could be a simple trip of fresh meat kept in cold storage conditions and delivered to its final destination within 8-10 hours!
    I would personally LOVE to put the thousands of meat-eaters enjoying the spoils of this disgusting trade through the same fearful torture!

  • locowings says:

    What about the health of humans who inevitably eat these animals? How do conditions of transport impact food quality – and contribute to the next pandemic?!

  • If this ship smells so bad can those animals truly be treated with kindness and respect. It obviously must be cheaper to transit the animals alive. Do they leave them to rot amongst the other live animals should they die. Sounds like cruelty to the maximum.

  • Anne Taylor says:

    Please reconsider the tone of your headline. What is going on is horrific. It’s not the time for clever little puns. If you’re still unsure, have a look at the photos posted by the Cape of Good Hope SPCA on their Facebook page and decide whether this is simply about ‘causing a stink’?

    • Ritey roo roo says:

      I absolutely concur. This is beyond cruel. These are sentient beings and that they are forced to endure these conditions is shocking. Imagine being packed close to your dead companions for weeks at a time knowing your time is coming too. Yes, they are aware for those brain dead flesh eaters

  • Not sure which century we are living in clearly still the dark ages where this would’ve been okay, but we are in the year 2024! Why are we as humans allowing this why has SA allowed this ship in. #GREED#MONEY! We have our own land to farm these animals with CARE ourselves! Absolutely cruel inhumane we should be ashamed at what we have become.

  • Everytime one of these “death ships” are in our waters the NSPCA petitions (with thousands of supporting public signitures) the government to stop the barbaric transport of animals in this manner. Of course this falls on deaf ears and the ships are allowed to continue with their journey resulting in unspeakable animal cruelty occuring along the way. It simply has to be asked who in government is being paid as even the dishonorable morons who waste good oxygen have to be brain dead not to see the immorality of this.

    • Ben Harper says:

      The protests are meaningless, the vessels have right of free passage around our coast in accordance with international maritime law, SA’s territorial waters only extend 12nm from the coastline

  • Tim Gross says:

    This is reprehensible, man. It is so obvious the animals are in distress and to be out at sea for another 24 days is, frankly, just sickening on every level.

  • Nicky Blooms says:

    This is Iran’s issue. Not for the South African public, to use our money. Iran can afford to take care of this. As for Brazil, South Africa and Iran; all these espionage games against the West and the “destruction” of neocolonialism is going to finish South Africa. Good Luck to everyone who is anti-capitalist and Anti America. They are not in a recession and there economy has recovered wonderfully from Covid-19.

    • Brian Cotter says:

      Any mention of Iran is antirevolutionary and Naledi Pandor will be searching you out. She has bent over backwards to forge links with Iran, facilitating BRICS entry, visits there, and signing agreements TEHRAN, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) — Iran has reached an agreement with South Africa to “develop and equip” five refineries in the African state, said Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi on Friday. The agreement was reached on the sidelines of the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, the president said in a statement. Under the agreement, the Iranian Oil Ministry will help to develop five refineries in South Africa by exporting “technical and engineering services,” said the statement.
      I didn’t know we are building 5 oil refineries. Could this reference be the clue – Iran is still one of the main conduits for illegal drugs trafficking; namely opium, hashish, heroin and morphine base, which originate from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and are destined mainly for markets in Europe and the Persian Gulf and Middle East region. We have hash oil, could this be it.

  • Brett Redelinghuys says:

    Pls, let’s apply the logic here that is supposed to make “humans” clever.
    Ban all live livestock ships. We have freezer ships, let’s use them.
    This is not humane.

  • paulclouw says:

    There is a discrepancy between evolutionary success and individual suffering. In the case of animals such as cattle and sheep, each have a complex world of sensations and emotions. I would say Homo Sapiens are finally measured regarding the way that they treat animals. What happens on a ship like this is schocking and should be stopped.

  • Andrew Newall says:

    Rich politically connected Brazilian cattle barons is the reason the the Amazon
    rain forest are been cut down at alarming rate. More space for grazing ergo more ships like this one .
    The rain forest is the lungs of the world.

  • Lasse Herdien says:

    Consumers of animal products are seldom forced to confront the brutal conditions experienced by the hundreds of millions of animals needlessly slaughtered for food every year. I hope the truth of their suffering lingers in the minds of the public even after the stench disappears.

  • Andrew Newman says:

    Thank Kuwait. It is owned by Kuwait, the trade is probably done by Kuwait and they even put their name and flag on it. Has any journalist got comment from Kuwait?

  • Luan Sml says:

    This cruel, shocking and barbaric practice should be banned universally!

    For a start, this article should be widely publicised in Brazil, Kuwait and Iran, so that people there can see what inhumane treatment these animals must endure before being slaughtered… which for these sentient beings could only be regarded as blessed relief from this treatment!

    Publish on a global news platform as well, raising awareness and outrage at this unacceptable and inhumane practice!!!

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